Many cattle producers in southeastern Louisiana didn’t fare too well as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
Observers estimate producers lost at least 80 percent of the cattle in Plaquemines Parish, according to LSU AgCenter cattle specialist Dr. Jason Rowntree.
"Anything south of Myrtle Grove is gone," Rowntree said. "We can expect at least an 80 percent death loss of cattle in Plaquemines Parish."
The LSU AgCenter expert also said one herd of 2,500 cows in the Venice area is unaccounted for. Venice is the last town on La. Highway 23 at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Rowntree said another 1,000 head of cattle are stranded on a levee. But volunteers are taking hay to them by airboat until they can be rescued.
Elsewhere in the hurricane damaged area, losses are expected to be much lower.
Rowntree said that in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes hay fields and pastures were under as much as 12 feet of water, but observers believe cattle losses are less than 5 percent.
North of Lake Pontchartrain, wind damaged barns and structures but left the cattle relatively unharmed.
"The Kentwood Co-op reported more than 50 percent of structures and fences are damaged," Rowntree said of the area in northern Tangipahoa Parish. For the parish as a whole, however, he said he’s heard reports that 75 percent of the fences and barns are damaged, but less than 5 percent of the livestock has been lost.
Rowntree said he’s heard little from St. Helena or Washington parishes, where strong winds toppled trees and caused extensive damage to electrical and telephone lines.
The livestock specialist said cattle producers’ challenges are finding fresh water for their animals and the lost value of hay and grazing.
He also said wandering cattle could be a hazard to motorists in some areas.
"It’s something we have to keep in mind," Rowntree said. "People need to be conscientious driving, because so many fences are gone."
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture